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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Fat Possum
Eskimo Snow

Rating: 8.7/10 ?

September 28, 2009
Yoni Wolf wears the customary clothes of his time, like Jesus did, and sees no reason not to die, as he tells listeners mere seconds into Eskimo Snow. Why? might have said this years ago, but he wouldn't have had a band to back him up. As powerful as 2008's acclaimed Alopecia was, it had moments where Why? the rapper took away from Why? the increasingly non-hip-hop band. The result was a lyrically fascinating and musically pleasing record that still lacked in consistency and, at times, thoughtfulness.

It took Eskimo Snow, which was recorded alongside Alopecia, to highlight the crossroads Wolf was at in his career, yet the self-proclaimed least hip-hop thing any version of Why? has ever done might also be Wolf's finest. Instruments previously banished to repetitive hooks are granted more room to develop and flourish, as shown on the goofy, dare-you-to-not-smile keyboard progression in the chorus of "Against Me," and sixteenth-note piano and guitar patterns that appear throughout the album. These uplifting riffs tie the album together and serve as a representation of Eskimo snow - a pure and happy image reigning in bitter, sardonic lyrics. While the snow turns multiple choruses into pick-me-ups for any occasion, juxtaposed lyrics stay hilariously self-deprecating and fresh.

"This Blackest Purse" begins with dangerously honest sentiments that, coupled with Wolf's voice, could easily become whiny. Instead, the powerful bass and piano buildup turns the track into the album's standout. A distortion-based guitar solo on "Into the Shadows of My Embrace" is a musical representation of Wolf's proceeding lyrical meltdown, marking the first instance of a distinctly Why? sound that doesn't come from Wolf himself. "One Rose" went in the opposite direction, taking distinctly Why? lyrics and applying them to a somber, nearly acoustic tune, adding a new depth to Wolf's repertoire. Why? the person always had unique ideas, but, for the first time, Why? the band complements these thoughts and feelings with consistency, creating an accessible, exciting and complete work.

Reviewed by JJ Lang

See other reviews by JJ Lang



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